Fight. Dream. Hope. Love. And weep uncontrollably. Actually, it was more of a continual leak out of my right eye, rolling down my cheek. And the odd snuffling intake of breath.
Yes it is wonderful. Not perfect, but truly wonderful. And I have been humming many of the songs since I saw it this weekend. Over and over. It is a family joke that my husband, The Squire, has been whistling the anthem on and off for 20 years since we saw the musical in Toronto. And now he has started up again. Oh, well...
Quick history of Les Mis for those who need it. A French historical novel written by Victor Hugo in 1862, it was turned into a musical in Paris in 1980 where it ran for only 3 months. Translated into English, it opened in the West End of London in 1985 where it originally was panned by critics but immediately embraced by audiences.
Beginning in 1815, Jean Valjean is finishing a lengthy prison sentence for stealing bread to feed his sister's children. He eventually becomes a force for good after an encounter with a kind Bishop, but is continually confronted with his dark past because he is pursued by Inspector Javert over a period of almost 20 years and ending just after the Paris uprising of 1832 .
The rest of the story you all know right? He helps Fantine who has taken to the streets to pay for her daughter Cosette's room and board with the terrible Thénardiers. After Fantine dies, Valjean finds Cosette and adopts her. They lead an itinerant life trying to stay away from Javert but constantly helping those in need. Cosette grows up and falls in love with student activist Marius (who Éponine has her eye on) well...here is the Wikipedia link for the full summary.
What you need to know is that the acting is superb. The singing is mostly wonderful and very surprising considering most of the cast are actors and not singers. The film draws you into the story and the emotion much more than the stage production can. It is long, but it is just so well done, I didn't mind the length.
So yes, Les Misérables is well worth seeing. Director Tom Hooper is on a run now (The Damned United, The King's Speech and now Les Mis). And might I add that Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter are hilarious as the evil Thénardiers. HBC could have used clothes out of her own wardrobe for this role. Actually, I am sure those little round sunglasses were hers. Or did she just lift them from the set?
Do you hear the people sing?
Singing a song of angry men?
It is the music of a people
Who will not be slaves again!
When the beating of your heart
Echoes the beating of the drums
There is a life about to start
When tomorrow comes!